An Indian gang-rape victim was “struggling against the odds” to survive yesterday after suffering a heart attack and brain injuries, as medics criticized a decision to fly her to Singapore.
In a bulletin issued the day after her arrival in Singapore, doctors at Mount Elizabeth Hospital said the 23-year-old was battling an infection in her lungs and remained critically ill after the Dec. 16 assault in Delhi.
“The patient is currently struggling against the odds, and fighting for her life,” Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of Mount Elizabeth Hospital, where she was airlifted to from India, said in a statement.
“Our medical team’s investigations upon her arrival at the hospital yesterday showed that in addition to her prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, as well as significant brain injury,” he added.
On Thursday night, the hospital revealed that the woman, who is a student in Delhi, had undergone “three abdominal surgeries and experienced a cardiac arrest in India” as it gave the first detailed rundown of her condition.
The woman had been treated in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital since she was thrown off a bus in the capital after six men took turns to rape her at the back of the vehicle.
She also suffered severe intestinal injuries as a result of being assaulted with an iron bar, according to police and prosecutors.
The decision to fly her in a special air ambulance was taken at a meeting of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet on Wednesday, the government having promised to pay her medical bills.
Singh has ordered an official inquiry into the gang-rape and promised new laws to protect women, as well as stiffer penalties for the worst sex crimes.
Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that Delhi police would soon launch a drive to recruit more female officers as a confidence-building measure.
“I have suggested that each of the 166 police stations in Delhi should have at least one woman officer. We don’t have enough to meet that target yet, but I told them that as many as possible should be deployed until we recruit more women,” Shinde said.
The Delhi gang-rape has shone the spotlight on a crime that occurs on a daily basis in India, with most such assaults taking place in rural areas.
Police said yesterday that a 15-year-old schoolgirl had her throat slit after being gang-raped in the Pali Muqimpure area of Uttar Pradesh State.
A hunt has been launched for three youths after the attack on Thursday, a report by the Press Trust of India news agency said.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old girl who was gang-raped committed suicide after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers, police said on Thursday.
One police officer has been fired and another suspended over their conduct after the assault during the festival of Diwali on Nov. 13 in the Patiala region in the Punjab, according to officials.
The teenager was found dead on Wednesday night after swallowing poison.
Before her death, there had been no arrests over her case, although three people were detained on Thursday. Two of them were her alleged attackers and the third was a suspected woman accomplice.
Official figures show that 228,650 of the 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year in India were against women. The real figure is thought to be much higher because so many women are reluctant to report attacks to the police.